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ADL-SYD-FRA-BER

Adelaide to Sydney, upgraded to business class due to length of leg, and three seats to myself, the opportune westerly blowing us out into the ocean to turn and come at the city, sea cliffs, Bondi, Coogee, looking north to the centre and Newtown. I spent the day with Victoria walking around the harbour at dusk and later Roland, both whom I haven’t seen for years, and not spent time with since Vevey… Breakfast in Newtown with someone I’m very glad I got out of bed early to see.

I’m writing this at midnight, oh yes jetlag and soon to sleep with elephant ankles tingling and warm, a mouth of cotton wool, s tired I can’t recall these recent hours too well.

The plane to Taiwan. China Air and exit row seats… Oh they are now not a favourite airline. A stopover in Taipei, so I did yoga in the departure lounge, a marble floor, humid and sultry, the ripe smell of summer and pollution at night. The cleaning lady said, “Shenti hen hao. Hen bang le!” I tried to remember how to listen and then speak. Oh two years murders a language.

Another agonising 12 hours to Frankfurt, feet want to depart my legs, little potato blimps, and then some hours on the train to Berlin. Five? I’m not sure. I arrived at 1pm.

The train was a relief, i stared and let my brain collapse, thoughts a murky slob, often dozing, quite beyond exhaustion. Fields of unnamed crops, defined by colour, length and size of leaf, some sown so tightly as to be a blue-green mat, others open enough to see dirt between, other fields shot with purple, red, white clutches and streaks of flowers, a herd of lazy cows…

A Smart car burbled on the road near the horizon, a small trundling ladybug that if its brakes were applied too forcefully would flip head over tail until ending to rest in a muddy culvert, would right itself, shake the mess off and continue on its way.

Later the rain finally broke, sending silver drops flickering across the glass, a school of tiny Smart cars skittering up and down in unison on their rearwards journey with the roll of the carriage. I thought here I was at last reaching delirium from a score and ten or more hours of my biology stretched across hemispheres.

Berlin. I go to put €2 into a phone and Daniel says to me, “You won’t be needing that”. Fortuitous and absurdly perfect timing for my start to Berlin. (I think I’m staying in a Gay men’s guest house though. Oh confusion. I thought gay meant, you know… a variety of genitals, oh well, it’s a room and a bed and rather pretty out the window. I shall eat occasionally and sleep here and that will be all.)

I post this the next day, sitting in the café I have found in Rosenthaler Platz. We had lunch here yesterday, it reminds me of Vienna somehow.

homeless dance co

In-between rehearsing, last night I drifted up to the 4th floor of Asialink for drinks and hanging out with the just-arrived Homeless Dance Company, and it was a very happy surprise for me to see Yogi, one of the dancers at 舞蹈空間 Taipei Dance Forum, and also to finally meet Daniel Yeung from Hong Kong, who is one of the very few independent choreographers in the city. Also there, sitting in a circle were Melbourne’s Nat Cursio, Motoko Ikeda from Tokyo, Jung Young doo and Kim Sung Yong from Korea and visual artist Elizabeth Boyce also from Melbourne.

I’m going along on Friday to watch some of their rehearsals at the Meat Market, and they are having showings there on the 28th of April. Then they are off to Hong Kong at the Ngau Chi Wan Civic Centre till mid-May and Taipei’s National Chiang Kai-shek Cultural Centre till the end of the month. Yes I am quite envious of them all going to two of my favourite cities, and am dreaming of the night markets in Taipei where I would eat like a whale straining krill.

austral-asian-dual-invasion is a collaborative creative development project that will begin in Melbourne and continue development in Hong Kong and Taiwan. It will explore the meeting of different cultures : cultural identities, cultural activities and cultural symbols. The team consists of local choreographer Natalie Cursio and local visual artist Elizabeth Boyce with five dance artists from four Asian cities : Tokyo [Motoko Ikeda], Taipei [Chan Yu chun] Korea [Kim, Sung yong] and Hong Kong [Daniel Yeung and Anna Cheng].

YOU ARE WELCOME TO ACCESS THIS PROJECT AND THE ARTISTS BY:
JOINING US FOR MORNING CLASS ___ wed 18 and wed 25 april. 9.30 – 10.30am. $5-
COMING TO OUR CHOREOGRAPHIC WORKSHOP___ fri 20 april. 9.30 – 11.15am. $12-
WATCHING OPEN REHEARSALS___ thu 19 and 26 april. 3.00 – 4.00pm. free!
SEEING OUR SHOWINGS AND FORUM/CONVERSATION___sat 28 april. 2.00 AND 4.00pm. free!

All classes and open rehearsals will be held at Artshouse / North Melbourne Town Hall. [521 Queensberry St, Nth Melb]

The showings will be held at The Meat Market. [5 Blackwood St, Nth Melb]

— homeless dance co

taipei art-punk squats

One of my favourite blogs from Taiwan is Anarchy in Taiwan or gotmahmojo who recently wrote a big piece on a new squat in Ximen, and the artists, musicians and others who are turning an abandoned building into something beautiful in The Taiwan DIY Ethic. I have a real soft spot for artist squats, having spent a particularly memorable time of my life living in warehouses across Wellington and Auckland, and especially going through an anarchist phase again now.

I was really excited to see something positive and creative going on in the city, since its been years since the “renaissance” of underground music and art that took hold in Taipei during the post-martial law 90s. I’ve often heard kids lament that they hadn’t come of age during that time when the local art scene was young and exciting (now it’s still young and about as exciting as a turnip). It was during the 90’s that the first livehouses opened (and were shortly shut-down) and art bands like LTK and Clippers first started playing wild shows filled with lovely displays of destructive performance art. One show which has become a sort of legend in the indie scene was the “Broken Life” festival held out at a condemned Taiwan Beer brewery in Banchiao back in 1995. As the story goes, LTK set fire to the stage during their set before tossing their instruments on the blaze. The noise band, Zero and the Sound Liberty Organization, ended their set with a spectacular finale – throwing a vial concoction of what was reported to be vomit, spit and piss, on the audience. The appalled crowd promptly attacked the band with chairs

— gotmahmojo


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leaving taiwan

I’m leaving Taiwan tomorrow morning after 3 1/2 months here. It’s been very cool, I like this place alot, and maybe I’ll be back soon to terrorise more unsuspecting arts lovers. I didn’t make a whole lot of art here, but the time in the Taipei Artist Village has got me started on nine new works. Quanitiy, not quality, that’s what matters. I also met a huge number of really awesome people with whom I’ve had the pleasure of hanging out in once of the coolest citys I’ve lived in. (For me. three months is long enough to qualify as having lived here).

Tomorrow I fly to Hong Kong, where I will be catching up with some old friends, and meeting some new ones, then on to Guangzhou on the glorious KCR. In the meantime, I’d like to thank everyone here who has made my time a memorable one, and maybe we’ll get to do it all again very soon.

25302 marks of scope

Two new shows opening in Taipei and Tainan. This weekend at 新樂園 xinleyuan, is 25302 marks of scope, and at the other end of the country in Tainan, [ | X | L ] the Graduate Institute of Plastic Arts 8th Group Show at 138 Art Station.

新樂園 Xinleyuan is at Taipei, Zhongshan North Road, 2nd section, Lane 11, number 15-2, ground floor, phone 02-2561 1548. 138 Art Station is at Tainan, Zhongzheng Road, Lane 135, number 16, phone 06-2292422.

the free meal ticket

The best thing about being an artist is the travelling and parties. In the last three years, I have spent almost two-thirds of my time living in hotels, apartments, various rooms and studios, schlepped around airports like an old friend, and not once have I paid for it. That’s the joy of being an artist. The being poor and not knowing when or where the next job will be, that also is the joy of being an artist, as well as the perpetual interrogator of why I am doing it.

As much as I love Australia, and as a foreigner who became a citizen it’s more home than anywhere else, I have a very difficult relationship with the place. Nothing would make me happier than to make work there all the time, and nothing is more unlikely.

Today I discovered is Australia Day. Heading out the door at 7pm to go climbing, I was dragged into a taxi by various people from the Artist Village and taken to the Far East Hotel for a very swank Australia Day celebration. This is the other joy of being an artist; getting to go to parties and eat really good food. I was very under-dressed.

I’ve never celebrated Australia Day but I like the place as my adopted home. I just wish you’d give me a fucking job. Anyway, these blondes were the life of the party.

aakzb – channel_a

The last couple of nights a big bunch of guys from Burkina Faso have been playing long into the evening at the Taipei Artist Village. I don’t know much about them, but they’re from Burkina Faso and part of a group called Artistic Association Kaam Zoug Bangre, and they’re in Taiwan playing at the Artist Village over three nights, and then at 大趨勢畫廊 Main Trend Gallery tomorrow night. They also kick arse.

小白兔唱片 white wabbit records

Downstairs in the underground alleys next to The Wall is a world of Taiwan and Asian music purgatory. No Kenny G. ballads or Canto-pop here, just your usual un-mainstream mash of anything alternative, punk, metal or otherwise not going to be heard inside of a taxi. Next to 地獄大使 Hell Ambassador Records is 小白兔唱片 white wabbit records, home of one of the only independent record labels in Taiwan, run by 葉宛青 Yeh Wan-ching or KK who has made a career and life out of the shop and label. Taipei Times interviewed her yesterday.

“Because the music market is so fresh, starting this kind of venture might actually be the easy part. Keeping it alive is the hard part,” she said.

To do so, KK made the label and store operate symbiotically, as the label’s local releases — six in total so far by Nipples, Bad Daughter (壞女兒), Peppermint (薄荷葉), plus compilations — draw attention and people to the store, where they can buy more music, mostly by North American and European indie bands, sold by the label under exclusive licensing agreements.

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art village @ taiwan

Before I came to Taiwan and the Taipei Artist Village, I had a pretty slim idea about what was going on in the arts over here beyond the money-shot festivals and Cloud Gate Dance Company. It turns out Taiwan has 18 artist villages across the island that have just come together under the Taiwan Artist Village Alliance.

Many of these villages are located in parts of town that were slowly dying, and artists have renovated abandoned buildings which become well-known sites for the arts. The publication of Art Village @ Taiwan booklet lists all the villages, including 台北國際藝術村 Taipei Artist Village and 草山行館 Grass Mountain Chateau in Taipei, and 二十號倉庫 stock 20 in Taizhong.

6 years of documentaries

Last month Taipei had the hype of 台北金馬影展 Golden Horse Film Festival and the much less hyped 台灣國際紀錄片雙年展 Taiwan International Documentary Festival. For all the worthy films in Golden Horse, it still celebrates the same high-priced and monotonous global obsession that Hollywood is entranced with and really has very little to say about what is going on in film-making in Asia. The Documentary Festival however presented a much more encouraging view of Asian film-making.

At the Golden Horse Film Awards earlier this month, the number of Taiwanese-made feature films submitted to the competition–reputed as the Oscar of Chinese-language motion pictures–was just 29, of which 14 were short films less than 60 minutes in length. That means that commercially oriented movies produced in Taiwan in recent years have only amounted to about 15 films per year.

In contrast, the number of Taiwanese documentaries submitted to the biennual Taiwan International Documentary Festival (TIDF) this year was 142, 20 more than in 2002. The festival’s first year, 1998, saw fewer than 100 entries. The 2004 festival ran Dec. 11-17.

“Life,” a two-hour-long Taiwanese documentary about the aftermath of a devastating earthquake in central Taiwan in 1999, made more money at the local box office than any other Chinese-language motion picture this year, despite mixed reviews.

Whether it is a good or bad sign for Taiwan’s moribund film industry, this shows at least that feisty local filmmakers are striving to do whatever they can with whatever resources they have.

As the only international competitive film festival in Taiwan, TIDF has grown considerably over the last six years. There were 287 movies from 40 countries submitted to the third TIDF. The number this year has jumped to more than 640 works from 100 countries.